Martin Luther Essay

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 3231
  • Published : July 6, 2007
Open Document
Text Preview
Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 - February 18, 1546) was a Christian theologian and Augustinian monk whose teachings inspired the Protestant Reformation and deeply influenced the doctrines of Protestant and other Christian traditions. Martin Luther was born to Hans and Margaretha Luther on 10 November 1483 in Eisleben, Germany and was baptised the next day on the feast of St. Martin of Tours, after whom he was named. Luther's call to the Church to return to the teachings of the Bible resulted in the formation of new traditions within Christianity and the Counter-Reformation in the Roman Catholic Church, culminating at the Council of Trent. His translation of the Bible also helped to develop a standard version of the German language and added several principles to the art of translation. Luther's hymns, best-known "A Mighty Fortress is Our God", sparked the development of congregational singing in Christianity. His marriage, on June 13, 1525, to Katharina von Bora, a former nun, began the tradition of clerical marriage within several Christian traditions.

On Halloween of 1517, Luther changed the course of human history when he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, accusing the Roman Catholic Church of heresy upon heresy. Many people cite this act as the primary starting point of the Protestant Reformation. Luther's action was in great part a response to the selling of indulgences by Johann Tetzel, a Dominican priest. Luther viewed indulgences as false and going against God's salvation. Luther believed it was faith in God's forgiveness and compassion that we achieve redemption, not through money. Luther's charges also directly challenged the position of the clergy in regard to individual salvation. Due to the recently invented printing press, Luther's 95 Thesis spread far and wide. "Within two weeks, the theses had spread throughout Germany; within two months throughout Europe. In contrast, the response of the papacy was painstakingly slow" (Wikipedia). Luther's Protestant views were condemned as heretical by Pope Leo III in the bull Exsurge Domine in 1520. Consequently Luther was summoned to either renounce or reaffirm them at the Diet of Worms on 17 April 1521. When he appeared before the assembly, Johann von Eck acted as spokesman for Emperor Charles the Fifth. He presented Luther with a table filled with copies of his writings. Eck asked Luther if he still believed what these works taught. He requested time to think about his answer. Granted an extension, Luther prayed, consulted with friends and mediators and presented himself before the Diet the next day. When the counselor put the same question to Luther the next day, the reformer apologized for the harsh tone of many of his writings, but said that he could not reject the majority of them or the teachings in them. Luther respectfully but boldly stated, "Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen." On May 25, the Emperor issued his Edict of Worms, declaring Martin Luther an outlaw.

Luther's 95 Thesis brought about a great division in Germany and throughout Europe. Luther saw the church as the corrupt body it was at the time, and stating it aloud inspired others to back Luther. Many Germans revolted against the church and killed thousands of Catholics. This group broke away from the Catholics and started the Protestant Reformation in Christianity. In response to the Protestant Movement, the church started a Counter-Reformation. (sometimes called the Catholic Reformation or Catholic Revival). It was a movement within the Catholic Church to reform itself and to protect itself from Protestant attacks (protests), starting with the middle of the sixteenth century, in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Reformation was comprehensive and...
tracking img